How to Use Dog Separation Anxiety Training to Help Dogs With Separation Anxiety

Don’t you just hate it when your dog barks non-stop while you’re gone?  Separation anxiety in dogs is often the reason dogs chew up furniture and clothing, and even claw doors and windows when they’re alone.   By using dog separation anxiety training, you can often solve this problem. 

You have two goals with this training.  The first is to make your dog less dependent on you, and the second is to teach him that being by himself isn’t a bad thing.

Basics Of Dog Separation Anxiety Training

It’s important that your dog know his place in the family pecking order.  The dog should be at the bottom of the family heap, not the top.  Even if your dog sees you as the pack leader, it’s important that he doesn’t rank himself socially above the other members of the family.  Everyone in your home should be involved in dog training so that your dog understands that he needs to obey everyone in the house, not just you.

Your dog shouldn’t get too attached to you.  We’ve all seen the 90-pound dogs who always want to curl up in someone’s lap.  It’s funny at first, but it gets old fast.  It’s best to train your dog to sit or stay about three feet from you.  He needs to learn that he doesn’t have to be in constant contact with you to be happy.

Don’t let your dog sleep in the bed with you.  If he’s already doing this, first train him to sleep at the foot of your bed.  Then encourage him to sleep in his own doggie bed, with the eventual goal of moving his bed out of your bedroom.  This teaches him to become more independent of you.

Make sure your dog gets lots of exercise to burn up the extra energy he has.  A long walk in the morning and again in the evening goes a long way toward keeping your dog on an even keel emotionally.

This sounds harsh, but don’t make a big scene when you come home.  Encouraging your dog to jump around, barking in excitement when you return, is only reinforcing the idea that he can’t be happy unless you’re there.  It’s best to ignore your dog for twenty minutes or so before you leave, and again when you return.

Teaching Dogs With Separation Anxiety To Be Happy When They’re Alone

Work on teaching your dog the basic “sit,”, “relax,” and “stay” commands.  He needs to know these basic commands so you can work on these steps.

Find a reason to leave the room if you’re watching tv.  Use the “sit-stay” command, and then leave.  At first come right back, and reward your dog with a tasty treat if he stayed and didn’t follow you.  Gradually increase the time that you’re gone.  Do this many times a day, so that your dog learns that when you leave, you do come back.  He also learns that if he sits and waits patiently for you, he gets rewarded. 

You’ll also want to find a room in your house where your dog can’t destroy anything.  Put your dog in there with a few favorite toys that he only gets when he’s by himself.  Stay with him a little while, and then leave without any fuss, and close the door behind you.  Come back before he gets upset, and reward him with a food treat.  Repeat this as often during the day as you can, gradually increasing the amount of time you’re gone. Be sure to put his toys up when you’re done.

What your dog is learning now is that he gets fun toys when you’re gone, and a treat when you return.  This is teaching him that being away from you isn’t so bad after all.

Your next step? To take what you’ve just learned and apply it.  You’ll want to look for a good dog training course, so you can avoid making mistakes as you use dog separation anxiety training to solve your dog behavior problems.

Darlene Norris has worked at a vet clinic and an animal shelter, and has had lots of experience with dogs. To learn more about dog separation anxiety training, visit No More Bad Dogs at to find an effective dog training course that uses these principles.

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